15 Victims Of The Grocery Shrink Ray

The Grocery Shrink Ray continues its miniature spree across the supermarket aisles of America. Here’s 14 more victims that have surfaced in the past week, as spotted by our watchful bands of deputized Consumerist reader-investigators…

Click on the pictures to start an awesome gallery

GALLERY

Pat says, “My husband works long shifts overnight at our local air force base and he loves to eat Nature Valley chewy trail mix bars. I had just heard your interview on NPR when I went to Sam’s Club to the weekly supplies for his lunch and low and behold, they shrunk the granola bars. The box costs $8.28, which was reasonable for 35 bars LAST WEEK but THIS WEEK for the same $8.28 the box had shrunk and it contains 30 bars. My husband says that is a 17% increase in price per unit. Don’t know about the math but it is much less for the money. I have attached a picture depicting last week’s trailmix and this week’s trailmix.”

Joe writes: “At our BiLo Supermarket in Blk Mtn, NC, I’d been purchasing their 1 lb bag 44596 12725 For $9.99. When buying it again a week ago, I saw only one of that size bag in front of 3/4 lb bags. Since buying that last one then, this week I checked there and sure enough that price is the same for the now 25% smaller bags.”

Case writes:”The Grocery Shrink Ray has targeted my beloved Monster Energy! It’s not right, I tell you! For YEARS, Monster has come in 16oz cans. Now they are robbing me of a whole ounce of hypertension and diabetes-inducing goodness! NOOOOOO!

This on top of the fact that the average price per can at the gas station has gone from $2 to $3 over the last couple of years.

Is nothing sacred?!?”


Jeff writes, “Delallo Red Wine Vinegar old package 32oz, new bottle 25.4oz and still being sold for the same price of $2.79.”


Scott writes, “While on vacation in Tennessee this week with my partner we stopped to enjoy some breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains. After having our breath taken away we decided to each get a bottle of water. The nearby Coke vending machine advertised 12oz cans of Coca-Cola brand sodas or a 12oz bottle of Dasani water for only $1. Not a bad deal for vending machines these days. I went first, put in my $1 bill, pressed the button for the Dasani water & out came a 10.1 oz Dasani bottle (see photo).

Grrrrrr.

Severely displeased, my partner decided to call the customer service number on the machine. To our surprise, the customer service rep was courteous, apologetic, said that this should not be happening & that someone would be sent to correct the situation (she asked us to provide her with the identifying information off of the machine). After all of that, she took our information & will be sending us a refund for the $1 we paid (without us even asking for the refund).
So, we went from unhappy to satisfied in under two minutes. Yay(?)”

Sean writes, “So I was browsing Target to get some more trash bags, and I stumbled upon my favorite brand’s new box. It looks like they have a new scented version out. And apparently this new scented coating must be really thick, cause they took 6 bags out of the same size box, and they want to charge me the same price. I guess with everything else shrinking, Hefty must think were generating less trash as well. Needless to say I’m buying the box with more bags in it.”
Christopher writes, “I’m a frequent eater at the Subway located at Mendenhall and Winchester in SE Memphis as it’s near my office and comparatively healthy to the other nearby options. My regular sandwich is either a 6″ Roast Beef or Turkey on their honey oat bread. I went in this afternoon for a Roast Beef, and the preparer (food jockey?) only put 3 slices of Roast Beef on the sandwich. I noticed that the lady in front of my had a footlong Turkey and only got 6 slices. The problem is, last week (and as far back as I can remember) 6″ sandwiches got 4 slices of meat and footlongs got 8. As you can see in the attached picture, 3 slices of meat leave a significant hole in the sandwich.
I asked the manager on duty, and his response was that it was new policy due to rising costs. I realize I could be making my own sandwiches at home, but now I have a strong incentive to do so…$6.19 for a 6″ substandard sub no longer cuts it.”

Scott writes, “I just went to the store & bought the new shapely bottles of Tropicana Orange Juice. Though the bottle is smaller from 96 oz to 89 oz the bottle shape is the same dimensions (L*W*H). They just “squeezed” the sides of bottle inward.”

Ethan writes, “Noticed this at target today.”

Scott writes, “I noticed a little while ago that the packaging had shrunk for this jerky maker. At the time, I looked but the portion size stayed the same – 4oz per container. I thought something was amiss and kept checking but could never find proof until Thursday night. They now shrunk what you get and keep it at the same price. I took these pictures at 7-11 with my cell phone and tried to get the price and size in both. They were both marked at $5.99 even though one package clearly was marked at 3.5 oz and the other marked at 4 oz. Almost all of the 4 oz packages were gone and I made sure that I got both in Original flavor in case of discrepancy with flavor and cost.”

Katie writes, “I was running low on napkins at work. Much to my chagrin, I noticed the old Bounty package contained 20 more napkins 6 months ago than the package I bought today. Not exactly the quicker picker upper I expected.

All I had was the empty wrapper of the old one so my sister came up with a great idea on photographing this shrinkage.
When will the madness end??

-Katie
Cleveland, OH”

Matthew writes,”Even after reading your site daily I still got caught by the grocery shrink ray yesterday. My favorite Margherita pepperoni packages shrunk from 6 oz to 4.5 oz since the last time I bought them. I took a picture of a package I had at home and the new one. “

END






































According to this article, the Grocery Shrink Ray could be hitting all of Pepsi products. (Thanks to Mike!)


Ed writes, “I shopped at the Walmart I regularly go to for, among other things, Gillette Mach 3 replacement blades. They have been available in 4, 8, and 12 packs for seemingly ever. The unit pricing for each was typically very close. 4 packs were about $8.25, 8 packs were $16.45, give or take.

Today, I discovered that the 4 pack is now a 5 pack. The insidious part is that the unit price per blade in the 4 pack went from about $2.06 in the 4 pack to $2.25 in the 5 pack, while the 8 pack unit price did not go up as much – $2.10 from $2.06. While I get that it is very common for bigger volume packs to have a lower unit price, this was not the case for this product. This had held true for at least 5 years.

The other interesting aspect of this is that P&G did the opposite of the “shrink ray.” They grew/expanded the content and they sharply increased the price for that package. “

Brian writes,”I’ve been making my world (read: within my household) famous nachos for years now, and always with the same ingredients. The final part of cooking up the topping is a 15 oz. can of Hunts Tomato Sauce, a 4 oz. can of diced jalapenos (either Ortega or La Victoria), and an 8ish oz. can of diced ortega chiles. All of the items came in their normal sizes at their normal prices, but they are all far more watery than they have been in the past. I noticed it as I poured them into the pan, and now that they’ve been simmering for a good 20 minutes, it’s far, far thinner than usual. I think there may be some companies watering down their ingredients rather than making the serving size smaller. Is this the grocery version of water-diluted gas?”

Got a hot grocery-shrink-ray tip? Send your pictures and stories to tips@consumerist.com.

Comments

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  1. warf0x0r says:

    I thought the bounty rolls I just bought were smaller!

    I’m so getting a sham-wow now. :)

  2. incognit000 says:

    Dammit Reducto, get that thing away from my chips!

  3. jwlukens says:

    The OJ bottles made me sad when I first saw them grocery shopping the other day! I like my old bottles better!

  4. JB Segal says:

    My gods, people. I haven’t jumped in on the “you’re overdoing this ‘story'” thing before, but really, this is getting ridiculous.

    Could you spin off ‘www.groceryshrinkray.com’ (well, not that, as it was registered at the beginning of June) or something and just stop with it here?

    We know. Things are more expensive and mostly the producers are shrinking packages rather than raising prices… though not always. Ok. We know. Uncle. Enough! Please?

    (Or at least, could you create a “ALL Tags EXCEPT grocery-shrink-ray” feed, so I can read that instead?)

  5. MissTicklebritches says:

    Sham-wow! Ooh! Wants! I can has dri?

  6. crabbyman6 says:

    While I, personally, don’t care for these stories I just thought I’d make two comments.

    1)Thank you for putting these into one big post, I like the formatting and can appreciate that some people are very interested.

    2)I’m digging the new aerodynamic OJ bottle even if it is smaller.

  7. youbastid says:

    Subway has been doing 3 slices in 6″ subs since at least as long as I started eating there, which is about 2 years, for as long as I’ve been in LA.

  8. Khuluna says:

    @JB Segal: The link you’re looking for that lacks the GSR is [consumerist.com]

    For future reference, all you have to do is add not: in front of the tag you don’t want.

  9. InThrees says:

    @JB Segal:

    Actually, I think they’re handling it the right way with this post – instead of 15 separate shrink-ray posts with one product, we get one with 15, so people who want to check the newly discovered items against their normal shopping habits can do so, and people who don’t care (AHEM) can, you know, skip it.

    I do see where your reaction is coming from, though. It’s not like the vendors had a contract to provide x amount of product per package. This seems like a market-wide phenomenon now, in response to rising manufacturing and shipping costs.

    Personally I think the response is kind of blown out of proportion. Sure, it’s helpful to know which products have been downsized, but it’s not some big conspiracy. It’s economics, and spin. I do wish they would have just raised prices where possible, though, instead of “celebrating” the “new packaging” like it’s a big event in the life of the product line.

  10. TechnoDestructo says:

    Oh, the orange juice squeeze goes farther than just the bottle.

    Tropicana used to, at least for their “pure premium,” use only American oranges. Now it says something like “contains oranges from the US and Brazil.” Brazilian oranges are cheaper than American oranges, and for good reason. They are kind of sour and bitter compared to sweet, delicious US oranges. I recall reading once they were the cheapest in the world, actually.

    And this may be one of those “what do you get when you mix a spoon full of shit into a barrel full of ice cream” situations. I’ve NEVER had orange juice with oranges from “the USA and Brazil” that was good as pure American orange juice.

    There is only one fruit of which I am aware where the US producers just blow everyone else out of the water, and that’s Oranges. To my knowledge, only Florida’s Natural and other brands from the same coop (Donald Duck, others), remain as national brands selling pure American orange juice.

    (Oh, and there are some regional brands that use Mexican oranges…they’re not as good as Florida, but they’re better than Brazilian)

    Anyhow, Tropicana is screwing you two ways. What is REALLY fucked up is that at the half-gallon level, you don’t even have to pay a premium to get Florida’s Natural, it’s the same price as all the other brands (at least in AZ).

  11. MissTicklebritches says:

    You know, the shrink ray has been a round for a very long time. When was the last time a “dime bag” cost you $10? $25 even?

  12. JB Segal says:

    @Khuluna: Woo. Thank you! Now I just need to get that in to a feed. :)
    Oh look –
    [consumerist.com]
    Woo. For LJ readers, that’s now ‘<lj user=consumeristxgsr>’

    @crabbyman6: True, bundling them all in one is probably a better way to deal… easier to ignore.

  13. Ben Popken says:

    Save your comments about the editorial direction for my inbox. Nobody wants to read them here.

  14. tande04 says:

    @JB Segal: Make your own all tags except grocery-shrink-ray. Just add “not” to the tag.

    “http://consumerist.com/tag/not:grocery-shrink-ray/”

  15. MaelstromRider says:

    I’ve noticed products getting watered down as well, most noticeably canned meat products packed in water. There seems to be more water than there was a year ago.

  16. majin_chichi says:

    The Java Monster drinks have always been smaller than the regular Monster drinks, the same goes for the Rockstar Roasted drinks. I am not sure that this example truly qualifies as the Grocery Shrink Ray striking again

  17. tande04 says:

    What I really want to know more about is these famous nachos…

    Tomato sauce and peppers is like no nachos I’ve had before but the idea intrigues me.

  18. SuhinaLazor says:

    I am surprised weights and measures isn’t having a field day with this.
    I have seen the tags on the shelf still have the old size and the price
    per OZ or Unit based on that.

  19. JB Segal says:

    @InThrees: Sadly, Beer Frame – a zine by Paul Lucas – and its associated website, Inconspicuous Consumption, have gone fallow after some years of documenting “New Package, Same Great Taste!” spin. It was good stuff, and the archives are well worth checking out.

  20. floraposte says:

    @TechnoDestructo: I don’t think the blend has hurt the taste of the Tropicana myself, and I find the flavor superior to Florida’s. But I’m pissed at the shrinkage being disguised as a benefit, since I wasn’t really having much in the way of pouring trouble.

  21. snazz says:

    @tande04: me too!

  22. SadSam says:

    Why are razors so darn expensive???

    Re: Subway, I always ask for double cheese on my veggie sub and they never charge me extra. I wonder if they will clamp down on the extra cheese under this new policy.

  23. JB Segal says:

    @Ben Popken: Sorry, Ben. I’ve seen lots of comments go by about being tired of this obsession, but have failed to notice any previous redirection efforts on your part – mainly because I haven’t been looking for them, I suspect.

    As it is, I hopefully won’t be seeing any more of the GSR posts, so… yeah, carry on, or something. :)

    (I _love_ this site in general. Really I do. I even liked the 1st… month? of GSR posts, but I /do/ think it’s been done at this point.)

  24. emmpee9 says:

    @majin_chichi: Yep. All of the coffee energy drinks I’ve ever seen in the “tall can” format have always been 15oz. Rockstar, Monster, Starbucks Doubleshot+Energy, even the new Full Throttle coffee.

  25. JB Segal says:

    @MaelstromRider: I’m dubious, as water content in meat is very tightly regulated. I think there’ve been posts here before about the legal definitions of “water added”, and other similar terms.

    I know the air content of ice cream is defined by the FDA, too.

  26. bobpence says:

    The Subway “sandwich artists” definitely follow a consistent rulebook, so the only change should be if the slices get smaller, which seems unlikely. (Fun fact: Subway offers two quality levels of many of the ingredients they require their franchises to buy. The meat on your sandwich may have cost one store $20 per tray and another store down the street $30 per tray, even though both are the same sandwich and may sell at the same price. The first store is trying to maximize profits by minimizing materials costs at the expense of quality; the second store wants to maximize profits through repeat business, and so serves the better meat.)

  27. theRIAA says:

    damn tropicana…

  28. tbone13 says:

    quality has hit the fan.

    costco paper towels taht i loved so much are now thinner and rip very easily.

    now i have to use twice the paper… so much for the friggin environment. :(

  29. BoomhauerTX says:

    Dryer’s whips extra air into their ice cream to meet the same price point per size. Rather than adjusting price, they just put more free stuff into it.. AIR!

    Get a 1/2 gallon of Blue bell & Dryer’s and compare the weight between the two.

  30. jimv2000 says:

    @crabbyman6:
    “2)I’m digging the new aerodynamic OJ bottle even if it is smaller. “

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually find myself that concerned about how air flows around my food containers.

  31. TangDrinker says:

    The GSR on diapers is especially stinky. Pun intended. P&G (Pampers) raised prices earlier this summer and announced they (and Huggies, too) will be raising prices again shortly. This is probably the biggest incentive to toilet train our toddler!

    I hope the federal agency that administers food stamps (I know, they’re electronic debit cards now) is paying attention to this trend…

  32. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @TangDrinker: Um, food stamps (in my state, anyway) buy FOOD, not diapers. Unless you eat diapers… ;)

  33. DreamWalker81 says:

    Java Monsters have always been 15 oz since they came out. the regular monsters are still 16oz. the reason for the 15oz is for sale purposes. Monster energy drinks are always on sale but it’s only for the 16oz variety.

  34. jcrn says:

    I opened a box of Corn Pops the other day and there were only 3 Corn Pops in there. I gave the Corn Pops loading machine the benefit of the doubt in that case, kind of like those canned drinks which only contain air, no liquid.

  35. I thought most companies, particularly ones that use plastic packaging, can get away with shrinkage, saying the new containers are “eco friendly”

  36. Shrink_Ray_Bandit says:

    @Ben Popken: Where did you find my picture?!?!?! I am supposed to remain shrouded until my final plan is unveiled! You’ve foiled me!

  37. blue_duck says:

    @Thatcornellguy: It’s way too widespread for that now, I think.

  38. TechnoDestructo says:

    @TangDrinker:

    Raising prices is …well, it sucks, but it isn’t OFFENSIVE, like attempts at deception. Did they take one diaper out of the standard package or something?

  39. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Thatcornellguy:

    They’re not, though, not compared to a larger package. If you assume package proportions, and the thickness of materials used remains constant (not necessarily a safe assumption, but in many cases it will be), and you ignore caps and bag ends and such, if you double the amount of stuff in the package, the amount of packing material will only go up by ~1/2. (And halving the amount of stuff will reduce packaging by ~1/4)

    Larger packages are more environmentally friendly (well, assuming everything in them gets used).

  40. Wubbytoes says:

    That beef jerky makes me sad. That’s my favorite brand.

  41. arl84 says:

    Damn you, Reducto!! Claiming more and more of my favorite things!!

    Also, can we vote to have Reducto pics for every future GSR story? ’cause that was amazing.

  42. TheDude06 says:

    Anyone notice possible shrinkage in the ‘family size’ pop tart boxes? mine say 52g/tart, but they seem tiny, and more square than usual… please! not pop tarts too!

  43. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    The shrink trend is really starting to annoy me. There are several recipes that I use on a regular basis that require a “can” of this or a “bag” of that, and now I have to buy TWO items just to get as much as I had in one, originally, and then I have left over product that doesn’t get used and invariably ends up spoiling.

  44. SacraBos says:

    One of my rare vices are Keebler Deluxe Grahams. I just opened a package, and now each cookie is about half the size of the original. I’ve very disappointed.

  45. capitalass says:

    K, so I get the whole price per unit thing, but maybe its not so bad that they reduced the size of the pepperoni package. Diabetes and heart disease = more offensive than price gouging. Sometimes I think that corporate greed could get americans to think more about their overconsumption. Maybe capitalism is an effective paradigm. jk, but please don’t complain about the pepperoni. You have more to lose than money. btw, I say this as I eat an italian deli sandwich. It’s delish.

  46. AugustaAcoetes says:

    I say to the guy making the nachos that he is right on about ingredients
    containing more water and filler, and less actual product. My personal
    experience: Friskies canned cat food. Even before their recent label
    switch, any can of sliced, shredded, etc food used to be chock full. I’d
    give my cat half a can in the morning, and at night. No longer. Just pop
    the top and you can instantly tell that there is substantially less food
    inside and a lot more liquid. I’d say this has happened within the last 2
    months, at least until I took serious notice.

    All is well as I was wanting a reason to switch to a higher quality cat food
    anyways, yet this practice is borderline unethical in my mind. With
    different packaging and labeling, an on-the-ball shipper will notice these
    things. When you sell your product in the exact same package and weight,
    yet manage to fill it with less genuine content, someone needs to step in.

  47. Sarcasmo48 says:

    I have no hate for the GSR posts. I’m just glad you have FINALLY gotten around to using Reducto as the mascot!

    FULL BRAZILIAN!

  48. ribex says:

    Wow, is there any way to slow that gallery (slideshow) down? It took me until the third picture to be able to pause it. Neat idea, but way too fast.

  49. Dansc29625 says:

    @bobpence: That explains alot. I kind of disagree with the idea that one can be a victim of a shrink ray. In today’s time we have to keep figuring out if something is a good deal or not.

  50. snakeskin33 says:

    I think the slideshow is a great illustration of the difference between something that’s arguably hard for consumers to notice and something that’s clearly marked and in no way deceptive. The garbage bags, for instance, are marked in HUGE print with the number of bags in a box — there’s certainly nothing deceptive about that. Ditto the granola bars, which are in a different sized box with a huge notation of the number of bars.

    Personally, I prefer smaller packages for the same price with certain things. If you had to, say, increase the price of Diet Coke, I’d much rather still be able to get a bottle for the same price, even if it meant I got two tablespooons less, than be forced to buy the extra two tablespoons at the new increased price. Not all products are like this — laundry detergent and vinegar and things like that, where less in the package just means you buy it more often, that’s different. But where the most likely outcome of the shrink is just a little bit less in a serving, that’s preferable to me to a price increase.

    Anyway, I like the slideshow format, and it really allows review of when things are actually deceptive versus when they’re really just a matter of a fairly semantic difference between raising the price and holding the package size constant versus dropping the package size and keeping the price constant. Since I check both package sizes and prices, it never bothers me, but I understand why it bothers other people in situations where the package size is very hard to see.

  51. MrSubway says:

    I have worked for Subway since 1987 and have been a franchisee for 12 years and I can tell you that the formula for several years-5 plus at least – for the roast beef has been 3 for a 6″ and 6 for a 12″. As for having a choice of two levels of quality that is bunk. Subway has a “gold standard” program that has one accepted level of quality. BTW extra cheese should always be an upcharge that is just ill trained crewmembers or just laziness on their part.

  52. nsv says:

    @bobpence: It would be easy to shrink Subway sandwiches. Add one less slice of meat. The size of the meat slices might shrink soon, too, if the slab o’meat that they’re cut from shrinks.

    @AugustaAcoetes: The cat food can shrink might be a good thing, or it might be bad. Most folks I know feed their cats according to the size of the can (i.e.: kitty gets one can per day.) If the can shrinks, the cat shrinks. For overweight, overfed/under exercised cats, this will be a good thing.

    And at least they’re shrinking the can and not adding non-food filler. (I hope.)

    Love the weekly format! ;^)

  53. SJActress says:

    Either the OP or the Subway worker is lying about the conversation concerning his roast beef sub.

    I worked there for a year.

    Subway’s policy on roast beef (on a 6 inch) is 3 decent sized slices, or 4 smaller slices. It’s the ONLY cut of meat with this rule, because the size of the pieces isn’t consistent.

    A footlong turkey has ALWAYS been 6 slices, NEVER 8.

    A 12 inch Subway club is 3 roast beef, 2 ham, and 3 turkey. Technically, they should put the roast beef on top and hide the ham between the rb and turkey, because roast beef is the most expensive meat, and ham is disgusting and smells like rotting feet.

    Oh, and you know how many olives are supposed to be placed on your footlong? FOUR. Yep, FOUR. I hope to God there aren’t any sandwich artists that ever followed that rule.

    By the way, I think Subway food is gross (it is an INCREDIBLY CLEAN restaurant though). I am not endorsing their food, I’m merely pointing out that the “Roast Beef” shrink ray is inaccurate.

  54. FLConsumer says:

    I’m just wondering how much it costs these companies to create new packaging (and costing consumers and themselves even more) vs. just raising the prices and being done with it? In cases where changing the packaging actually reduces costs (like the new funky-looking milk cubes), it makes sense, but in general it seems these companies would be better off raising the prices.

    /Thanks for consolidating the GSR posts
    //One more vote for Reducto in every GSR story.

  55. BlazerUnit says:

    @JB Segal: Was there really any need to post your complaint? If you don’t like these stories, don’t read them, and don’t get in the way of those who do.

    This post reminds me of the message board posters who use the “ignore” function on posters they don’t like–and then that same person goes on to make an announcement about it. “I have put jambajuice178 on ignore, he’s a buffoon, so he can stop posting messages to me!”.

  56. Concerned1 says:

    Well, you can add Skippy Natural Peanut butter to this list as well. Although I have no photos, I just saw the “new” look of the Super Chunky which is about 1 oz less than previous size, but the same price.

    What I truly don’t understand is, why do these companies think they can fool us with shrinking the amount of product we get and still pay the same price? If they are doing this because of the economy, I’d respect the company 10x more if they would just UP the price and give us the same amount!! This is just blatant deceptiveness.

  57. CarltonElipticate says:

    Subway turkey and roast beef sandwiches have always only had 3 slices for a 6 inch. But those slices look about half the size as when I worked there 4 years ago. Half as big or less.